Dell's Vostro range is designed for use by small and medium businesses, but has previously been flawed by a lack of a clear brand identity. The Vostro 3500 effortlessly resolves this with the addition of a striking new design and Intel's latest Core technology.

The plain black plastic design of previous Vostros has been replaced by a striking aluminium case and plastic interior. Available in a choice of red, gold or silver, it creates a far more consumer focused style, which looks great and adds resilience to the chassis exterior.

At 2.5kg this isn't the lightest business machine you can buy, but it is portable enough for use on shorter journeys. Its smooth metal case lets it slip easily into a carry case. The 277-minute battery life is also satisfactory and lets you work for half a day when away from mains power.

A frequent strength of Dell laptops are their excellent keyboards and this machine doesn't disappoint. The wide board features large, firmly attached keys that respond smoothly and quietly at all times.

Ensuring the machine is as easy to use outdoors as in the home, the 15.6-inch screen features a non-reflective TFT coating. It works well and the screen can be easily viewed in direct sunlight. Colour and contrast are also strong.

To deliver powerful performance without adding a price premium, Dell has used Intel's latest Core i3 processor technology alongside high-speed DDR3 memory. The effect is impressive, with the Vostro speeding through business tasks and easily running multiple applications.

Adequate graphics

Graphics performance is slightly less capable, but is more than adequate for creating and running business presentations and videos. The cutting edge integrated Intel graphics card also provides power for photo and video editing, as well as basic gaming use.

Adding to the performance is the use of a hard drive that spins at 7200rpm (revolutions per minute) – the fastest speed currently possible in a laptop. It allows fast access to data when working, while the 320GB capacity provides ample storage for business and personal files. A hard drive shock absorber protects your data against impact.

An eSATA port lets you transfer files at high-speed to external devices, and both VGA and HDMI ports are in place for connecting to external screens at home or in the office.

By replacing the staid design of previous machines with a tough and sleek consumer look, Dell has hugely invigorated its Vostro range. The addition of powerful Intel Core i3 technology and fantastic usability adds enormously to the package, making for another great success for Dell.

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